Award winning teachers

Showing+wildcat+pride%2C+Mr.+ONeill+and+Mrs.+Rukes%2C+finalists+for+different%2C+honorable+awards.

Abbey Humbert

Showing wildcat pride, Mr. O’Neill and Mrs. Rukes, finalists for different, honorable awards.

Abbey Humbert, Staff writer

Two awards. Two teachers. One school.

Science teacher Sherri Rukes and social studies teacher Kevin O’Neill are both finalists of honorable awards.

Mrs. Rukes

Mrs. Rukes is a chemistry teacher who has taught everything science. She was nominated the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Math and Science. She was given the title of a national finalist in June. This award reassures the teachers that what they are setting out to achieve for their students is in the right direction. Nationally, it allow the finalists to represent Illinois and other states in a positive way.

Rukes is at the national level of this award. She had to go through the state of Illinois with an application and a video. This process was very lengthy. She sent in the materials and was one of three teachers in the state of Illinois to be passed onto the national level.

The state of Illinois picks the finalists based on what the judges think. These judges are college professors and members of the state board of education. The country picks the winner based on judges  from NASA, NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Congress.

Rukes is not yet a winner of this award, but she is one of three finalists from the state of Illinois.

At a state level, being nominated “validates that what I do and what I try to do for my students is in the right direction and that I am a good teacher,” she said.

The next step is to wait for the results. If she advances, she will get to meet the president of the United States in Washington D.C. She will also become a big role model to other teachers all around the country.

Mr. O’Neill

Mr. O’Neill is a history teacher and is currently teaching AP European history. He was a finalist for the 10th Congressional District Leadership Award, the Exceptional Educator. This award allowed congressman Bob Dold to reach out to members of his district and recognize them for their hard work.

This award was only through the 10th congressional district, in which Libertyville resides. It does not go through the state or national level.

There were six different categories that people could win. Mr. O’Neill was nominated into the Leadership category. There are three finalists from each area.

He was nominated by Rich Jackim, father of Skylar Jackim. Skylar was a student of Mr. O’Neill’s last year.

All the voting was done online. There were judges to determine who would be the finalists. After that, everything went through Twitter, Facebook, or email.

“I really appreciate everybody in the school. Teachers sent the [link for voting] stuff out and had their kids vote in class and stuff like that. My department head put it on his Twitter page. The administrators sent it out. It was nice to be supported by the school community,” Mr. O’Neill explained.

Many rewarding moments have been shared through this experience, according to Mr. O’Neill.

One rewarding moment happened when he was at the banquet in Lake Forest to see who won the award. The other two finalists were sitting with coworkers and administrators but he was sitting by himself. A woman came up to him, who had daughter in Mr. O’Neill’s class in years past. At the end of the ceremony, another woman went up to him and she had a daughter who was in his class. They talked about the award and how the former students of Mr. O’Neill were doing.

This is what [teaching is] about. These parents that remember me, they remember the class their kids took,” said Mr. O’Neill.